Is cupping a good way to figure out target espresso taste profile?

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.

#1: Post by nosiesta »

Hi there

What is the 'best' way to figure out the flavours that you are trying to get from a shot of espresso? I'm new to the game and haven't developed my pallet even slightly enough yet to really figure out if I'm anywhere near what the roaster had in mind. Is 'cupping' the coffee a good idea first? Would that let me know what it's supposed to taste like and then I can aim for that same profile in my espresso? Or am I way off the mark here?



#2: Post by zefkir »

It's not a bad option.

Personally, since I use the same coffee for filter and for espresso, I always start my bags as pourovers, with a handful of brews I already have a decent idea of how the bean should taste and should behave when ground for espresso before I even pull the first shot. I let that be a guidance.

nosiesta (original poster)

#3: Post by nosiesta (original poster) »

Thanks for the reply. I'll try it and see how I get on!


#4: Post by Milligan »

I do the same thing as zefkir. I start with pour over for a few days with a new coffee. Then after a week or so I'll switch to espresso for it since coffee needs to rest at least a week before espresso anyway. PO gives me great separation of flavors to know what to expect out of the espresso. I wouldn't specifically recommend cupping, it is fine to do though. I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to do a cupping though as one doesn't typically enjoy a morning cup of coffee with grounds in the bottom of the cup.


#5: Post by ojt »

If I need to "assess" a coffee, maybe because I'm having trouble extracting it well, I do a french press brew of it. Very similar to the cupping brew and much easier to make consistently than pour over.

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#6: Post by baldheadracing »

Just to clarify, "cupping" is both a brewing technique, and also a method for comparing multiple coffees.

If you have one bag of coffee, then preparing a more diluted coffee than espresso may help in identifying taste notes. It doesn't have to be "cupping cup;" a pourover works fine.

However, cupping that coffee with other coffees is a way to build one's ability to discern tasting notes in any coffee. I generally try to cup at least three coffees at the same time, with two bowls per coffee (six bowls total), and no idea what is in each bowl (I mark the bottom of the bowls). It can be humbling not being able to figure out which pairs of bowls are from the same roasts. After doing as much slurping as I can, I pour all the bowls through a filter (Able Kone in my case), and have coffee to sip on for the rest of the day.
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#7: Post by another_jim »

As Craig says, cupping works best with multiple coffees. As a home roaster, I cup coffees when I first buy them, to see if I'll keep it and how to roast it; and then after each roasting session to see if they came out right.

There is a long running argument whether every coffee at every roast can be done as espresso. Saying "yes" to that commits you to a kind of Mount Everest climbing or Iron Man competing style of espresso making. You start collecting exotic grinders, machines, and shot making techniques to get something interesting out of even the most out there coffees.

To me, that's a lot of fun as an occasional pursuit; but not as an everyday routine. So the big question is how should coffees taste brewed if they are suitable for everyday espresso. The answer is really kind of simple. Espresso needs to be more balanced than regular coffee. If the brewed coffee tastes bland and boring, it will make an OK, but probably boring espresso. Think medium roasted, mildly nutty tasting Brazil. If a brewed coffee has interesting and up front flavors, it will make a great espresso if it tastes sweeter than it tastes loud. This is especially true as the coffee cools.

So here's the rule I use to pick espresso worthy coffees: if the cool brewed coffee tastes sweet and interesting; I'm in business!
Jim Schulman

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#8: Post by LBIespresso »

Staring as P/O is great and I often do that, but...sometimes I come at it from the opposite end, Turkish. Thanks to Dr. Gary I have learned a lot about my coffees from trying them as Turkish early on post roast. Turkish uses less coffee if you don't have much to dial in as well but coming at it from either direction, the finer grind of turkish or coarser of P/O will be informative.

Bottom line, explore and have fun. There is always something to learn.
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